Details of the 2017 incident involving an E/A-18G Growler crew using their aircraft to draw phallic control shapes in the sky have been released, and the story is about as ridiculous as you imagined it to be.
The “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130 were identified as the culprits in the great “Sky Penis” case, which took place over,the skies of Washington State.
The aircraft, known as Zapper 21 and carrying a pilot and an Electronic Warfare Officer, had free flight time at the end of an exercise and decided to have a little fun.
The EWO reportedly suggested the idea to the pilot, who -despite initial reservations- went along with the idea.
“My initial reaction was no, bad,” the pilot wrote in a statement after the incident. “But for some reason still unknown to me, I eventually decided to do it.”
The two lieutenants of Zapper 21 went over the plan to ensure that the symbol would be as perfect as can be, lest a passing airline crew or enemy satellites catch a peek.
“Airliner’s coming back on their way into Seattle, just this big f****ng, giant penis,” the pilot said over the flight recorder. “We could almost draw a vein in the middle of it too.”
Reaching the prime altitude for contrail-making, the pilot perfoormed a figure-8 and then conducted a long turn back to create the shaft and head.
Balls are going to be a little lopsided,” the pilot groaned. “Balls are complete. I just gotta navigate a little bit over here for the shaft.”
“Which way is the shaft going?” the EWO asked.
“The shaft will go to the left,” the pilot responded.
“It’s gonna be a wide shaft,” the EWO surmised
“I don’t wanna make it just like 3 balls.”
After a while, they started to take in their work, and realized the global gravity of what they had just done.
“Some like Chinese weather satellite right now that’s like, ‘what the f**k?’” the pilot said.
Flying away to appreciate the fruits of their labor, the two began to laugh audibly over the flight recorder, snapping photos.
Soon, the voice of a lieutenant commander from their flight crackled over the radio.
“Your artwork is amazing,” the senior officer said to them.
“Glad you guys noticed,” the pilot responded.
Suddenly, there was a problem- the contrails weren’t going away. Despite attempts to fly through the sky penis in order to scribble over it, the passes did little to disrupt the contrails and the planes -now low on fuel- were forced to head back to their Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island.
Once on the ground, the aircrews weren’t having fun anymore.
According to the Navy Times, the squadron executive officer (XO) immediately stepped in to shield the two lieutenants from the deputy commodore of Electronic Attack Wing Pacific and the squadron commander, who both wanted to see heads roll for the incident.
The crew of Zapper 21 were cooperative, forthcoming with information and expressed remorse over the incident, and an investigating officer determined that the prank -while sophomoric- was not serious enough to justify tarnishing the career of two well-regarded officers.
“While the sky writing conducted by (the lieutenants) was crude, immature, and unprofessional, it was not premeditated or planned and not in keeping with their character demonstrated prior to the incident,” the investigator wrote, recommending the Zapper 21 crew receive “non-punitive letters of instruction.”
The XO concurred.
“They 100 percent need to be held accountable, but if they are allowed to continue in naval aviation this is not a mistake they will repeat,” he wrote. “Minus the current circumstances, they have never given me a reason to doubt their trustworthiness or their resolve to be officers in the Navy.”
In the end, one officer in the investigation summed the entire incident up in a simple statement:
“This was a really bad decision by some really good guys in a really good squadron.”